To Speak of Wolves

Myself < Letting Go

Written by: DR on 12/05/2010 14:55:49

There are many Christians in music, particularly in America, or so it seems. You can then divide those people into two categories: those who let their faith touch their music, and those who let their music touch their faith. To Speak of Wolves fall into the second category. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as bands like Underoath and As Cities Burn have managed to maintain a strong religious front without isolating their fan base - awesome music knows no boundaries. If either of those bands are a tad preachy for you, or if you are tired of metalcore in all it’s Christian or non-Christian forms, you might as well stop reading now because although To Speak of Wolves don't completely browbeat you with their beliefs, they're still firmly-present, and although they do metalcore well, it's far from genre-changing.

Thankfully, "Myself < Letting Go" isn't metalcore in the same way that Parkway Drive or August Burns Red are, the format is far from the chugga-chugga-breakdown-headbang-chugga deal that seems to be clogging the scene's drains. Names like It Dies Today and Norma Jean have been passed around by reviewers and fans; personally, the vibe I'm getting is a less technical Underoath - imagine what the album between "They're Only Chasing Safety" and "Define The Great Line" would have sounded like. The musicianship is decent, but never awe-inspiring. The screams are very guttural, to the point where you can almost feel Rick Jakob's throat shredding as he barks passionately. However, this does limit his range. He's not able to seamlessly switch from deep-belly-bellows to shrieked-wails like Spencer Chamberlain, nor is he as powerful as Dani Winter from Bury Tomorrow. The cleans have a polished wail to them, and are nothing we haven't heard before, neither is the dynamic between both pipes as they overlap.

"Darkness Often Yields The Brightest Light" starts things off with muted drums until everything comes crashing in as the vocalist shouts "I'm the desperate, You're the saviour". No, wait, that's Underoath. In my defence, both starts are incredibly similar. Only, To Speak of Wolves are more thick and full on, until they get to the chorus which has droning croon to it - a common theme throughout the album. "Myself < Letting Go" is steady throughout, but never displays any genuine ambition, which is a major drawback. The songs follow a constant formula, which they do well it must be said, of screamed verses and clean choruses with steady musicianship underneath without ever daring to shift the tempo or time signatures violently or even explore anything particularly foreign to their format. "White Dress, Red Letter" is probably the stand out track of this rule. A rare moment of excellence does come towards the end of the album in "Quercus Alba". It begins with a piano and soft clean vocals as they make use of the surprisingly good lyrics. You know the screams are going to burst in at any moment, but what you don't know is how fucking good they're going to be. "I BREAK THE SURFACE AND SEE THE SUN!!!" cries Spencer Chamberlain. Yes, that's right. They've managed to rope in a cameo from (arguably) the greatest screamer in the genre (his brother plays drums for this band). Now, I can't find any official word on it whatsoever but I'm not deaf - I know it's him. It's a surprising move, recruiting someone as good as him to do guest vocals. Rick Jakob's game picks up considerably during the course of that song, it's his best performance all album, but all it really makes the listener realise is the gulf of quality currently between the two screamers. Take it for what it is though, which is the best song on this album.

So, we've already established that "Myself < Letting Go" is generic and not technically stunning, why on earth would it work? Because it's assured, meaning fans of the genre will find plenty to enjoy. The production is slick, the guitars and drums are nice and thick, which adds a bit of "oomph" to this album. But for those of you out there that want something a bit more from their metalcore, you should probably look elsewhere, because To Speak of Wolves will remain in the shadows of many acts a while longer yet, but with some ambition and some refining of their talents, they could plausibly create their own sizeable shadow one day.

6

Download: Quercus Alba; White Dress, Red Letter; Nothing Ever Ends
For The Fans of: Underoath; Norma Jean; Metalcore
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 18.05.2010
Solid State Records

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